Stigma, Mental Health and Peer Support

Apr 24, 2024

One in five people live with a mental health diagnosis, yet many people suffer in silence because of stigma. Fear of being treated differently or being discriminated against can result in people avoiding or delaying seeking treatment.

The mission of the Anti-Stigma Coalition is to get people talking about their mental health, both their challenges and their successes. There are many resources available for people with mental health issues including counseling, support groups, and peer counseling. By talking about mental wellness, stigma can be eliminated.

Several Anti-Stigma Coalition members offer peer support programs, both formal and informal. Talking with someone who understands can have a positive impact when you are dealing with a mental health challenge.

Peer support provides encouragement, assistance, and emotional support while sharing knowledge, teaching skills and connecting to community resources. Peers are individuals who share the experience of living with a mental health and/or substance use disorder.

Peer support can be found through a support groups, mentor relationship, and friend connections.

Ready to talk to someone?

If you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health issue, help is available. There are a variety of organizations and programs across Western New York standing by to assist children, adolescents, adults and families with prevention, treatment and recovery.

Mental Health Advocates of WNY Youth Peer Advocates are trained individuals ages 18-30 who have personally received mental health and/or addiction treatment services. They provide information, one-on-one crisis support, validation and hope to youth and their families as they navigate the mental health care system.

At Compeer, positive mental health is encouraged through meaningful friendships. This can take many forms—from one-to-one mentoring to group activities.

“At Compeer, friendship is crucial because it serves as the foundation for our approach to mental health support. Friendship offers a genuine connection that goes beyond clinical interactions, providing a sense of belonging and acceptance that is often transformative for individuals facing mental health challenges,” said Cheri Alvarez, CEO, Compeer of Greater Buffalo/International.

“These friendships, nurtured by our dedicated volunteers, offer mutual support, understanding, and encouragement, helping to combat feelings of isolation, loneliness, and stigma,” she said.

Through friendship, individuals at Compeer find the strength and resilience to navigate their mental health journeys with hope, positivity, and a renewed sense of community.

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